Jessica Berman, shown here in 2016 during the Beyond Sport United...

Jessica Berman, shown here in 2016 during the Beyond Sport United conference at Barclays Center, was named NWSL commissioner on March 9, 2022. Credit: Getty Images/Roy Rochlin

Upon being introduced as commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League on Wednesday, Jessica Berman told CBS, "I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t look like the other people that work in the sports industry."

Berman meant it is unusual for a woman to be in such a position, having previously been deputy commissioner of the National Lacrosse League and before that a high-ranking NHL executive.

Good for her, and good for sports, which needs all the smart, capable people it can get in charge.

But in another sense, she was as predictable a choice as possible for a sports entity in North America. Journalistic protocol called for investigating where Berman grew up, but there was no need, really.

Brooklyn! Duh. Well, more broadly, New York State. Because pretty much everyone who runs sports these days grew up in New York. It’s . . . weird.

Technically, there are 49 other states, in which approximately 310 million people reside, plus another 38 million or so in Canada, but here we are:

- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is a Half Hollow Hills High alumnus.

- NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell attended high schools in Westchester.

- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is from upstate Rome.

- MLS commissioner Don Garber grew up in Queens.

- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, arguably the most powerful person in college sports, grew up in upstate Auburn.

- ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, arguably the most powerful person in sports media, grew up in Westchester, as did NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua.

And, if we expand our geography just a bit to include New Jersey (you know, that state where the NFL's two "New York" teams practice and play), the commissioners of the WNBA (Cathy Engelbert) and Big East (Val Ackerman) join the club.

What about influential television announcers? Let’s just take NFL play-by-play men:

CBS’ top two (Jim Nantz and Ian Eagle), NBC’s top two (Al Michaels and Mike Tirico), Fox’s No. 2 (Kevin Burkhardt) and ESPN’s No. 1 (Steve Levy) are from New York or New Jersey. (St. Louis’ Joe Buck is the outlier here.)

What about ESPN’s lead basketball announcer, Mike Breen? New York. What about Turner’s lead NHL announcer, Kenny Albert? New York.

And don’t get us started on New Yorkers who own teams in the hinterlands.

You get the point. We could go on and on. It’s Saul Steinberg’s famous 1976 New Yorker cover come to life, only more so, with nothing at all West of here.

None of this comes as a surprise to those of us who are from New York, because having us run things seems like the natural order of the world. In the end, the rest of America is just a bunch of branch offices.

But how does everyone else put up with this? Talk about East Coast bias; this is East Coast domination. California? Hello? Anyone out there?

We even have established beachheads in some of those outposts. Has Syosset’s Sue Bird been named mayor of Seattle yet? It’s only a matter of time.

Back to Ms. Berman. She is an alumnus of the University of Michigan – same as the late Bob Tisch and Fred Wilpon – and of Fordham Law School – same as John Mara. It all ties together.

Berman said in a 2020 interview with Canada’s Sportsnet that her interest in the business was sparked when she was 16 and attended a game in which she saw people from different backgrounds who did not know one another high-fiving and hugging after the home team scored.

"I knew at that moment that I wanted to work in an industry that had the power to unify communities," she said.

And where did that community-unifying moment occur? At an Islanders game. A New York Islanders game.

Someone has to be in charge. Why not us? You’re welcome, America.

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